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´Easy wins´ expected by football finance expert as English pyramid awaits independent regulator

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 26 Mar 2024

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Introducing an independent regular will serve up some “easy wins” as well as settling the ongoing financial disputes between the Premier League and lower tiers of the English footballing pyramid.

That was the message from football financial expert Kieran Maguire, who spoke to Stats Perform as charges continue to be pressed against the likes of Everton, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City.

Everton had an initial 10-point deduction reduced down to six for a breach of the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability Rules in the 2021-22 reporting period, though the Toffees are this week arguing a second case, which refers to the 2022-23 reporting period.

Forest saw four points taken away for their own misdemeanours under the same ruling, while Championship title contenders Leicester could face a points deduction for a breach from last season, when they were relegated from the top flight.

The UK government has already reaffirmed its commitment to introducing an independent regulator for English football, which would be a standalone body to rule over existing competition authorities.

That move is welcomed by Maguire, who believes the additional form of governance would protect the future of clubs and have the best interests of fans in mind.

“I think [English football’s independent regulator] is going to cover a variety of issues, some of which, I think it’s fair to say, are easy wins,” academic, broadcaster and author Maguire said.

“The setting up of fan advisory boards, who will potentially have the right to a golden share in the club, would give them the ability to veto a change of the club’s home shirt [for example].

“[That] is always a very emotive issue as far as clubs are concerned.”

A plethora of clubs have suffered from lacklustre ownership across the English Football League in recent years, with League One side Reading the current strugglers under Dai Yongge’s stewardship.

Former Premier League side Derby County also went into administration in 2021 owing to ownership struggles and they remain in League One after a downturn in performances on the pitch following off-field issues.

Maguire insists an independent regulator could somewhat avoid these issues, adding: “It’s likely that there’s going to be a series of tests to make sure that prospective owners are of appropriate, good character and have sufficient funding.”

Funding remains a topic of discussion at English football’s top table, too, with the Premier League still negotiating financial deals with the English Football League (EFL).

Maguire believes if agreements between the two competitions over lucrative financial rewards cannot be agreed, the regulator would serve a purpose as an independent and unbiased adjudicator.

“I think this is why the Premier League have been so against the idea of the regulator due to its ability to determine a financial agreement between the Premier League and the rest of football,” he added.

“We’ve seen the Premier League reject the proposals for the EFL to have 25 per cent of the overall TV deal. The Premier League has rejected the EFL’s desire for the abolition of parachute payments.

“Could the regulator step in? My understanding is that it would much rather Richard Masters and Rick Parry corral both their sets of troops and come to an agreement.

“But it is prepared to say, ‘Well, if you fail to do that, then we will step in and be a decider of last resort’.”

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